It’s natural for young children to want to spend time with their parents. But doing household chores often cause mom and dad to take many hours away from their kids.
So what is the solution? Use this as an opportunity to get your children to help you out with chores, and discover endless ways to bond with them.
Children must be taught to shoulder their responsibilities at home-making, even at an early age. Get rid of the idea that you’ll give them chores only as a form of punishment.
And as long as you make the tasks appropriate for their age and ability, performing household chores will give your children a sense of fulfilment, which will enhance their self-esteem.
One of the key things to keep in mind is that although children would need to exert their best efforts to finish a task, perfection should not be required from them.
Avoid slave-driving or ordering your kids around. Instilling discipline, perseverance, and the value of cooperation as a result of asking your children to help with chores should be done with a gradual, gentle approach.
The following is not an exhaustive list, but just some simple, basic tips on what to do.
1. Provide Child-Appropriate Cleaning Equipment
You can’t expect your kids to handle adult-sized equipment. Miniature brooms, mops, pails, dustbins, and even gardening tools can be bought from a hardware store or major shopping malls.
Teach your children how to use each tool properly by demonstrating. As they’re able to catch on, you should be able to supervise them, since safety is also crucial.
2. Break Down One Big Chore Into Smaller Tasks: "Divide and Conquer"
A chore that is easy for adults may seem overwhelming for children. If you expect them to fold a mountain of washed laundry, employ the “divide-and-conquer” attitude. Smaller children can fold handkerchiefs, while older kids can be assigned towels and shirts.
3. Use Repetition
Children learn through continuous reinforcement, so be patient, even if it may take a while for them to do a task properly.
Use a step-by-step approach when explaining what should be done and when. In the case of folding towels, you can instruct them that each fold should be one-fourth of the entire towel.
4. Bargain or Negotiate
This is especially helpful on extremely hectic days when your kids don’t have time to help out. You can work around a regular schedule but still remain flexible.
For example, if a new extracurricular activity is added into the mix, you can let them rearrange their chore schedule. If it's raining, they can swap the lawnmowing chore for something else. You can negotiate a deal where your kids help you set the table three evenings a week in exchange for spending an extra half hour playing their favorite video game or watching a cartoon during the weekend.
5. Create a Chart of Tasks and a System of Rewards
Like an anticipated job promotion, salary increase, or cash bonus at work, incentives or rewards can be a great motivation for your kids to be consistent with their chores.
In order to make the process more fun, create a colorful chart out of poster paper or illustration board, markers, or felt-tip pens.
Jot down specific chores or tasks for your kids and the corresponding points they'll get to earn once they successfully accomplish them.
Here's an example:
- Making their beds = 2 points
- Dishwashing = 2 points
- Taking out the trash = 3 points
- Walking the dog = 3 points
- Helping Dad wash the car = 5 points
They can then add up the points every weekend and earn a reward from you.
A reward can be anything simple—like a sheet of stickers or an ice cream cone for an accumulated 10 points—to something a bit pricey like a comic book or a plush toy, for an accumulated 15 or more points.
6. Offer a Helping Hand When Needed
If a task proves to be too difficult, don’t allow your children to take the easy way out and quit. Instead, make things easier for them by offering assistance. This will give them the impression that you’re a team and that they can rely on you.
7. Refrain From Being Overly Meticulous or Critical
It’s vital for children to develop a positive attitude towards chores. If you’re always nagging and criticizing them, the experience of performing chores will be negative for them.
Always dispense a kind word or praise them once they've done something satisfactory, like
"Your room looks so neat after you've put away all your toys. You did a good job."
"It was very thoughtful of you to feed our pets before going out to play. Keep it up."